Another Frustrated Foe

Defense made all the difference once again for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.

It was fan appreciation night at the Bradley Center and after falling behind early, the Bucks defense made sure that Milwaukee fans didn’t go home disappointed.

The Bucks put on a fourth quarter defensive clinic, overcoming a double-digit deficit by limiting the Toronto Raptors to just 15 points in the final frame. The defense led directly to offense late as the Bucks pushed past the Raptors for a 93-86 victory.

« We got a lot of transition buckets, » Luc’s teammate Keyon Dooling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « Our defense always sparks our offense. When we can turn a team over and convert – converting has been a problem for us throughout the season but tonight it wasn’t. »

The win, in their final home game of the season, closed out a season sweep of the Raptors, a first for the Bucks all season, as Frank Madden of Brew Hoop noted:

« The Bucks haven’t managed a 4-0 sweep against any opponent this season, though they did win their series with the Nets 3-0. »

Luc and the Bucks started off slow on Monday night and trailed 33-25 at the end of the first quarter. Toronto’s lead would balloon as high as 11 in the second, but as the end of the half approached, Milwaukee slowly chipped away at the lead. By halftime they had cut the deficit to just five.

A Luc layup early in the third quarter trimmed Toronto’s lead to just a single point as the Bucks rallied early in the second half. They pulled even multiple times in the third and trailed by just two entering the fourth. It was then that they turned up the defense and pulled away.

After falling behind 77-71 early in the fourth, the Bucks’ defense shut down the Raptors offense and reeled off a 15-0 run to take a nine-point lead. In the final three frames, Milwaukee outscored Toronto 68-53. Bucks coach Scott Skiles explained to theJournal Sentinel how the Bucks took control.

« We did a much better job (in the second half) getting stops and getting them off the glass, » Skiles said. « That got us out in the open floor. We had some deflections and steals. We were able to go down and have a nice stretch of easy layups for a change instead of having the burden on our half-court offense to get shots. I thought if we could get a spurt at some point, we could take control of the game. »

Luc finished with four points and three rebounds while helping to tame Toronto’s forward trio of Ed Davis, Joey Dorsey and James Johnson. The three combined to shoot 14-of-33 from the field and the Raptors shot just 37 percent as a team. No. 12 and the Bucks defense also forced the Raptors into 20 turnovers.

Luc’s final test of the season may be his toughest yet.

No. 12 and the Bucks close their season Wednesday night in Oklahoma City against the Thunder where Luc will match up with the NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant.

For the Bucks to go out on a high-note, the Prince will have to contain Durant, who, at 27.9 points per game, leads LeBron James by 1.2 points for the scoring title.

The Bucks lost their only other meeting with OKC this year, 82-81. Durant did not play in that game while Luc scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists.

Wednesday’s season finale tips at 7 on FSN Wisconsin.